Niger opposition chief arrested after presidential coup claim

Security forces in Niger arrested the country's main Opposition leader hours after he called for a general strike and accused the president of carrying out the equivalent of a coup by unilaterally dissolving the nation's top court.

Security forces in Niger arrested the country's main Opposition leader hours after he called for a general strike and accused the president of carrying out the equivalent of a coup by unilaterally dissolving the nation's top court.

The arrest comes amid rising tensions in the desert nation, where President Mamadou Tandja has come under sharp criticism at home and abroad for manoeuvring to stay in power after his second five-year term in office expires in December.

The army's paramilitary police arrested opposition leader Mahamadou Issoufou in his home late yesterday, according to an Associated Press reporter who saw Mr Issoufou in custody.

Hours earlier, Mr Issoufou lashed out at Mr Tandja for dissolving the court, which rejected his bid to hold a referendum that could change the constitution so Mr Tandja could serve another term.

The court said such a referendum would be illegal and would violate his oath of office.

Mr Tandja assumed emergency powers last week and used them in a decree on Monday to disband the court.

The decree calls for the appointment of a new court composed of seven members, three of whom will be appointed by him and a fourth who will be appointed in consultation with him.

"Niger is no longer a state of laws," opposition leader Mr Issoufou told reporters before his arrest. "We are calling on all our supporters to use legal means to resist this coup d'etat."

Mr Issoufou also called for a general strike in the capital, Niamey, today, and said a spokesman for the opposition coalition, Morou Amadou, was arrested by police overnight.

More in this section

Cookie Policy Privacy Policy FAQ Help Contact Us Terms and Conditions

© Irish Examiner Ltd